A WING AND A PRAYER
When the Bath County (Va.) High football team kicked off its season in September, 39-year-old coach Carl Williams knew he faced a season of extraordinary challenges. Not that the Chargers were without promise. Before the 1988 season, Williams and his younger brother Steve, 28, an assistant coach, had decided to junk their wishbone attack. With the help of a 1941 instructional tome, they installed a variation of the single wing. Once the offense started to click, Bath County won four of its last five games, finishing 4-6. Most of the players were returning, including a pair of Williams brothers not related to the coaches: Tim, a 5'7", 155-pound tailback; and Chris, a 5'11", 170-pound fullback.
As the season approached, Carl's main worry was his health. He had undergone surgery for colon cancer two years ago, and in August he began to lose weight at the rate of five pounds a week. Carl coached Bath County to an opening 12-7 victory over Covington High—a school the Chargers had not beaten in their 33-year history—and four days later he had a CAT scan. Another tumor was found, and a week after that Sept. 1 victory, Carl had a second operation for cancer.
With Steve at the helm, the Chargers were remarkable, and they helped to invigorate Carl. Despite averaging only 160 pounds per player, their single wing took off; Tim rushed for 2,311 yards and Chris for 1,792. Going into last Saturday's Class A semifinal playoff game against Appalachia High, Bath County, which had never before qualified for the state tournament, was 12-0. The Chargers lost 27-23. "Carl said to keep winning and give him time to come back," said Steve before last week's game. "These boys played with more heart than talent."
While undergoing radiation treatments and chemotherapy, Carl continued to contribute. He received blood transfusions so that he would be strong enough to chart the last six games from the press box, and before each of them he addressed the squad. "The whole room got 10 times brighter when he walked in," says Chris. Carl gets regular visits at home from his players, who chop his firewood and clean his gutters, and he is optimistic about recovering. "We've turned this around," says Carl. "The coach is supposed to be the leader, but it's teenage kids who have inspired the community."
News item: At a world conference on global warming, in the Netherlands, the U.S. plays the leading role in scuttling a resolution that tries to set firm goals for reducing the emission of so-called greenhouse gases—23% of which are produced in the U.S.—by the year 2000.
News item: The Bush Administration nominates James Cason, who favors industrial development of public lands, to a post at the Department of Agriculture in which he would oversee the U.S. Forest Service.
While George Bush's campaign promise that his would be an "environmental presidency" rings hollow in light of the above events, each of the occurrences contains a glimmer of hope.
Some Washington insiders believe the Administration chose not to support the global-warming resolution so it could lead the fight against the greenhouse effect when a United Nations panel on the subject convenes in February. Bush feels more committed to the UN, where the U.S. chairs the subcommittee on response strategy and larger nations play a bigger role. The UN panel's report isn't expected until late 1990, but indications are that the U.S. will call for the inclusion of specific and substantial cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.